Thursday, 24 December 2009

Councillors as baubles mean xmas cheer

I didn't even notice the rubbish Christmas tree that has been shoved on the corner of Archway Road and Muswell Hill Road, until I read about it in yesterday's Evening Standard. The dishevelled-looking specimen is leaning against the oh-so-attractive safety railings and has been hastily 'decorated' with cheapo lights.

Oh, and it's cost £1,500. Somehow. Perhaps the council had to do a consultation, asking what colour lights people wanted. 'Multicoloured' they replied. So of course the council put white ones on. Thems the breaks...

Anyway, the thing that really bothered one local resident was not the odd angle of the tree or the fact that it cost a small fortune, but the simple fact that it didn't have any baubles on it. For shame.

Said resident then went about making some decorations - hey, there's a recession and a war on, times are tough, right?

Because the tree screams 'Haringey Council!' the resident decided it should holler this joyful refrain even louder. So what did they decorate it with? Stars with of 12 of our wonderful councillors pictures on them.

The decorator has taken a cross-party approach - this tree is certainly democratic.

12 stars though. I don't think Haringey will ever get 12 stars, somehow, do you?

The decorator explains "The 12 stars represent the 12 days of Christmas. I am rather chuffed with the finished results. I would urge Haringey's councillors to come and see if they are one of the chosen ones."

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Midwifery Under Fire

I have fought for decent maternity services since giving birth to my daughter at London’s Royal Free back in January 2007. I was always heartened to hear about the gold standard of care given by the Albany Group in Peckham, south London. It supports women to give birth wherever they choose – almost half give birth at home – and medical intervention rates are low. All women have their babies delivered by the midwife they first see and the group's caesarean and medical intervention rates are low. This is in great contrast to birth elsewhere on the NHS – as my own experience echoes.

However, the future of the Albany has been put in doubt after south London’s King's College Hospital terminated its contract, alleging that a disproportionate number of the babies it delivered suffered damage during the birth. Such brain damage can be caused during birth – for example, if the cord gets wrapped around the baby's neck – but it can also occur in the womb.

King's decided to terminate the contract after commissioning a report from the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE). It is claimed that the investigation was triggered by the death of Natan Kmiecik, one week after he was delivered at Kings by one of the Albany midwives. The parents' lawyers claimed proper procedures were not followed, because the baby's heartbeat was monitored only by a small hand-held device so she could have a water birth.

Supporters of the Albany group are outraged by what they consider an attack on the philosophy of independent midwifery and non-medicalised delivery. A vocal demonstration took place at the weekend outside the hospital, where women and children chanted: "Save the Albany".

"I'm very angry and very keen to see the Albany continue," said one. "This is just the beginning - the tip of the iceberg."

The fact is, birth on the NHS is in trouble. The existence if the Albany is in some ways an embarrasment to the medical establishment, highlighting as it does how wrong our general approach to birth is these days. We need a non-medicalised delivery setting to exist in order to remind us what birth can – and should – be like.
More demonstrations are planned and I hope to take part – along with my daughter, whose traumatic birth got me passionate about this issue in the first place.

Please get involved with the campaign and sign the petition:

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Climate Marching

I was at the annual Climate March in central London on Saturday, this year dressed as a Suffragette as part of the group Climate Rush. That's why I am dressed thus in the picture.

There was a great turnout, brilliant atmosphere - plus a sense of both optimism and urgency, I thought.

My Green Party colleague Pamela is going to Copenhagen this week, the lucky thing. I hope to hear all the news from the front line when she returns. A minibus of activists is going from Haringey to the summit, helping, with thousands of other protesters, to put pressure on world leaders at this incredibly important moment.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Carlisle Rd - sign up at last! And a poo update.

I've been badgering the council to put this sign up since the Summer - see my earlier blog. After (another) reminder, they've put it up. Hopefully this will mean less lost motorists driving up there and then noisily reversing out.

A small victory for Stroud Green residents...but one that got me a bit excited, despite the rain, as you can see.

On a separate note - back to dog poo again. The Hornsey and Crouch End Journal today report that there's to be a 'crackdown' on dog fouling in Stroud Green, Crouch End, Hornsey and Harringay wards. This is because, reportedly, there has been an increase in the number of people reporting the problem in these areas. I find this surprising as the enforcement team told me that only a handful of people in Stroud Green had reported the problem in the last 18 months. (This despite the fact it is a problem - as my shoes can report. Nice).

Whatever is the case, I am glad they're going to be attempting, at least, to enforce the rules. One small step - ooh, mind the dog poo!